Poverty is country’s main problem – bishop

Naval, Biliran (30 August) — Archbishop Gaudencio Rosales observed that poverty and not politics is our country’s main problem when he visited a poor community in Pasay City which is a bustling city.

His visit in the place was in a broad daylight but when he got into the shanty of a family nestled in a half-kilometer tunnel, he thought night had fallen.

Archbishop said that what we know about poverty will not compare to what he saw. It was noontime but you’ll never see daylight in that tunnel.

The prelate was shocked of the depth of the poverty to which many Filipinos have fallen while the country engrossed itself in political scandal. Quietly, poverty has gone from bad to worse. The number of poor Filipinos has gone to 70% of the population which has never been this many before.

Archbishop Rosales said poverty should attract greater attention from the government and the public than the political turmoil sparked by allegations that President Gloria Arroyo had cheated in the 2004 national elections.

The government should confront this kind of poverty which is near destitution. The poor should not be left to their own devices while corrupt public officials, gambling operators, and druglords raked in huge amounts of money, he said.

We know that money is just being wasted and stolen. Take the case of gambling, legal or illegal, that thrives all over the country. Much money is lost in “sabong” which is supposedly legal. Every municipality has a cockpit, every Sunday the people are there. Jueteng, last two, mahjong, masiao, and even the very popular bingo are lucrative forms of gambling, he added

Though gambling seems entrenched in Philippine culture, this should never be an excuse for society to tolerate it, especially at the expense of the poor. There is so mush destructiveness in our culture. We have to change the mentality of the Filipinos, according to Rosales.

Malacañang agree with the assessment of Archbishop Rosales adding that the reforms being instituted by the administration are geared towards addressing poverty which is largely “incubated and fed” by a poisonous systemic malfunction and gridlock. The press for Charter Change along with an aggressive push for character change should be amplified. (PIA-Biliran)